Judie Italiano, the longtime general manager of the Municipal Employees’ Association, has resigned after an internal investigation determined that she continued to use the union’s credit cards for her personal use despite promising not to do so in 2006.
MEA board members said in a letter sent to members today that the union had referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office for “its determination as to whether any crime was committed in the course of Ms. Italiano’s breach of trust.”
Michael Zucchet, a former city councilman who had been working as a consultant to the group, has been acting as general manager since Italiano was put on leave May 12 as the union conducted an investigation.
Italiano’s personal use of credit cards was first discovered in 2006 and was the subject of an internal investigation, a campaign to unseat her, and an investigation by then-City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
In an interview today, MEA President Tony Ruiz said the union subsequently changed its policies to prohibit the personal use of credit cards. Italiano also agreed to pay the association back for personal charges, Ruiz said.
Ruiz said Italiano stopped using the card for personal charges shortly after those charges came to light. But starting in November 2006, she resumed using the union cards for personal charges such as groceries and a casino gift shop, Ruiz said.
Ruiz said he discovered Italiano’s personal credit charges when he was preparing his first budget as association president and examined the books kept by office staff. The letter sent to members says Italiano wrote the organization a check totaling $13,903 covering the full amount, including interest, of $6,916 owed in credit card charges, along with $6,987 in annual leave. Those cover charges made through February 2009, Ruiz said.
“We were all taken in by Judie,” Ruiz said. “She [said] she would not be doing this type of behavior anymore. We put these policies in place and she agreed to these policies, and she breached our trust.”
He added, “We’re closing this chapter and moving forward and the business of MEA will continue.”
MEA is City Hall’s largest union, representing the its white-collar employees.